Summertime Freezing

I love spring and summer when I can buy my veggies and fruits at low prices. Hopefully I will be harvesting my own veggies here soon. We have a HUGE garden this year. Nothing compared to what I grew up watching my parents do, but still, HUGE for us!

We are growing tomato, squash, zucchini, beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, bell pepper, cilantro, cucumber, okra, and I feel like I am leaving something out but too tired to actually think about it long enough to know.

Freezing isn’t hard. Trust me. I, like most women, am a multi-tasker. Probably to a fault. I was cooking the man and I a “home” date night meal while I was getting my veggies ready for freezing. That night I made steak, potatoes and stuffed mushrooms (recipe to follow).  I had Thing #3 in a high chair watching me while snacking out on Puffs. Thing 1 and 2 ate their dinner early (chicken nuggets, chips and fruit) and then I got them started on a movie so I could finish cooking and blanching our veggies.

I promise there is a method to my madness. I had my squash and zucchini in the large pot on the stove, the steaks were in the fridge marinating, the potatoes were in the oven and as you can see I had to small dishes filled with stuffed Portobellos waiting to go in the oven…hence the web address, organizedsahm.

Thing #3 went to bed at 7pm. That left #1 and 2 finishing their movie and the man and I ate around 8:00. It was a good date night meal and I got everything in the freezer before dinner.

On to the freezing shall we?

First wash and cut up your veggies (about 1/2″ thick).  If you plan to use your squash and zucchini for pizza, you could also grate them now. We like to grill ours and throw them in stews so I cut mine 1/2″ thick.

While you are doing that go ahead and get a large pot of water boiling. You will be placing the veggies in the boiling pot of water for ONLY 3 minutes. You do this to kill the enzymes and bacteria that are in the squash and zucchini before you freeze them. I did my squash and zucchini separate. You can use the same water on different vegetables up to 5 times. I did a pot of squash, zucchini and green beans. Make sure if you are going to add water that you do it in between vegetables because the timer starts as soon as your veggies go in that pot of boiling water.

Once your pot of water is boiling go ahead and carefully place your vegetables in there. Place a lid on the pot and start your timer.

While your veggies are blanching, go ahead and get a large bowl of iced water ready. As soon as that timer goes off you will want to use a slotted spoon to start moving your veggies straight into that iced water. Why? Because you want to stop them from continuing to cook. I had one bowl for my squash and one for my zucchini. I took a break and got them into freezer bags and then started on my green beans.

As the ice starts to melt, feel free to throw more on there. The goal is to cool them down as quickly as possible. Right after I snapped this picture I dumped a little water and added more ice.

Once you are confident that they are cooled, drain the water and put them in your freezer bags. If you have one of those vacuum sealer machines, awesome! I don’t, yet, (said with emphasis because the man threatened to take a picture of me sucking the air out of the bags with a straw so I am now saving for one! Otherwise, it will be a long summer for me dodging his camera) but I hope to soon. To ensure you aren’t trapping unwanted air in there, grab a straw (I used a straw from my kid’s sippy cup) put it in the corner, seal up the rest of the bag and suck the air out quickly closing the bag as you remove your straw. Date/label your bag and set it in your freezer! All done!

When you are ready to use them, take them out of the freezer to thaw and cook them however you would like them cooked. I won’t take the time to run through step by step how to do the green beans. The pictures are pretty self- explanatory based on the information I gave you above.

Remove the ends and snap them.

Snapped beans.

Blanch them.

Cool them.

TADA! All done.

I also froze some strawberries over the weekend. You will freeze those individually. Wash them, pit them, place them in the freezer on a cookie sheet with wax paper for 24 hours then place them in a freezer bag. This allows you to take as many or as little berries out at a time throughout the year. Strawberry picking is good for another month here in Florida. I am told by local farmers here that after that, the farmers still grow them, but they actually sell you berries from California because it’s cheaper for them to import them than grow them as it gets hotter. Go get some and freeze them while you can.

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